It should be free to shop local

What do North West Labour and Conservative controlled councils have in common? They think it’s OK to charge their constituents to shop locally.

Salford Council has charged for it’s car parks for a good few years now. So even if you just want to pop to Salford Shopping City for a few minutes, perhaps to post a letter, it’ll cost you a couple of quid.

My Bury Lib Dem colleague Vic D’Albert has blogged today that the Conservative-controlled Bury Council are now introducing car parking charges at the Prestwich Town Centre Fairfax Road car park. I know this car park well, as I lived in Prestwich for a number of years – and I used to regularly shop at the Longfield Centre, since even then I believed it was better to shop locally.

What a pity Bury Tories are as short-sighted as Salford’s Labour. As Vic points out, the policy is being brought in for purely financial reasons. The car park charging proposal was introduced into the Council budget by the Conservative group earlier this year to balance the budget.

Have they not thought about the impact this will have on the struggling small businesses in the Longfield Suite? I assume they gave the Longfield the same consideration that Salford Labour gave Salford Shopping City when they increased parking charges there.

Listen up Conservatives and Labourites across the North West. It should be free to shop local.


  1. Pamela Welsh October 15, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Hi Steve,

    Couldn’t agree with you more in relation to parking charges. When I was working at the Prestwich Advertiser (which I did in conjunction with Salford- we were v busy ppl!) I was in charge of the campaign against the charges at Fairfax Road.

    I think there are two things to note here – a) the fact that hundreds of people signed petitions, protested, wrote letters etc to Bury Council, and they brought the charges in anyway. I think that’s a shame and it’s a bad political decision in an area which already feels disconnected from Bury. In my view, as humble as that is, it would have been a very good political decision to reverse the plan and it may have won the Conservatives a vote or two in an area they find traditionally difficult to penetrate.

    The second point I think is important is that people still need to make the effort to shop local. At the Salford paper, we made a big deal last Christmas about the fact that you can get A LOT locally, and for a lot cheaper, than you think. But it is really inconvenient. I know sometimes, when I’m feeling a bit lazy or a bit on the skint side, I’d rather go to the Trafford Centre where it’s free to park, then pay a £1 at Eccles town centre (it’s my closest precinct). I have to make that effort and it’s MY responsibility to pay it if I want to make a contribution to the precinct. Which isn’t right, no, but it is what it is, so I’ve got to do it.

    A final point that’s just come into my head, is that the owners of these big precincts need to get their heads out of the sand and start putting in some investment. I WANT to shop local and in Eccles, there is quite a lot there – a decent florist, Booths and a lovely deli just opposite our old office (it was a fav haunt of the Advertiser staff back in the day). But it’s also run-down and tired, can be quite threatening when the pubs spill out. Threadneedle only got their finger out to propose improvements when Tesco reared their head, and the same thing has happened at Salford Shopping City. It’s a shame.

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